Boston K1DS Program

Summary

Across the US, city officials and community members understand that positive educational experiences in the earliest years of life are critical for children to achieve long-term success and grow into productive members of the community. This is backed up by research that demonstrates high-quality pre-k increases a child's chances of succeeding in school and in life. Further down the road, quality universal PreK could mean higher test scores, lower dropout rates and better educated citizens. Children who attend high quality early childhood programs tend to show higher rate of completing high school; above-average test scores; and positive attitudes toward school among children and parents. They also demonstrate higher rate of stable employment, family involvement, and educational attainment. High quality pre-k can no longer be considered a luxury for upper income families or a special program for the disadvantaged. PreK has become just as necessary as kindergarten or first grade. With standards and testing taking center stage starting in kindergarten, children must learn cognitive and academic foundations they enter public school. In PreK children become familiar with books, new words and ways to use language, numbers, and problem-solving strategies. They also learn the social skills they need to get the most out of school -- how to pay attention in class and interact with peers. Elected officials and senior city staff persons are embracing the critical importance of quality care and education during these years and are working together to strengthen the existing early care and education infrastructure in their cities. Educational messages and materials are being delivered to the general public through the media, to targeted neighborhoods, to public policy makers and to parents and caregivers. Many of the positive outcomes affected by investing in early care and education programs can generate quantifiable spillover benefits. Some of this spillover may generate savings for cities while benefits accrue to private individuals. Investing in young children's education today will enable this nation to be competitive for the 21st century.

The Strategy

City Role The city is playing a lead role with partners in funding, highlighting, and supporting the importance of preschool. Partners Boston K1DS is a partnership between the Boston Public Schools, Thrive in 5, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and the Barr Foundation. Boston K1DS is funded by the Barr Foundation, Boston Public Schools, the @SCALE Initiative, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care's Birth to 3rd Grade Alignment Grant (part of the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge Fund), the Jessie B. Cox Trust, and the Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust.

Outcomes

In recent years, the district has expanded early childhood programs for four-year-olds, known as Kindergarten 1 or K1, with more than 2,300 "K1" seats available in September 2013, up from 700 seats in 2005. Today, they offer K1 seats in 85% of elementary schools, Early Learning Centers and K-8 schools. As part of the Acceleration Agenda, BPS is implementing uniform math and literacy programs across K1, including teacher training and coaches. For even younger children, Boston offers several free parent-child play groups for children ages 1-3 and their caregivers. They are led by an early childhood educator and include time for free play, circle time, snack, and gross motor/sensory play. Studies show BPS Early Childhood Education helps close achievement gaps. Internal and independent studies reveal that enrolling in BPS earlier than K2 has positive effects on student performance in both the short and long terms. The positive effects of K1 programs on student achievement apply to all students, including English Language Learners and students with disabilities. For example, they compared the results of the 2011 3rd grade MCAS ELA scores for BPS students who did and did not attend K1 programs. Students who attended K1 programs were 27% more likely to score advanced or proficient than those who did not.

Contact Information

Institute for Youth, Education, and Families
rucker@nlc.org

Early Childhood Education
Dr. Jason Sachs - Director 
(617) 635-9701
jsachs@bostonpublicschools.org

Related Topics